The Southwestern Region (the regions of Blagoevgrad, Bansko, Sandanski)

High mountains, picturesque gorges, meandering rivers, ancient traditions and preserved authenticity

High mountains, picturesque gorges with meandering rivers, ancient traditions – that’s Southwestern Bulgaria. That part of the country covers the region of the Struma River valley and the surrounding mountains - Rila and Pirin and its regional center is Blagoevgrad. Here, high mountain peaks watch over crystal clear glacial lakes, while deciduous and coniferous forests give way to vast mountain meadows dotted with flowers. The roaring waters of the river are constantly working their way through the picturesque gorge. Their fertile silts, as well as the mild Mediterranean climate have been contributing to the cultural bloom of the nearby towns for centuries. The region’s rich cultural heritage is preserved at the museums of Bansko, Belitsa, Gotse Delchev, Petrich and Sandanski. There are countless archaeological remains here, the architectural reserves of Melnik, Bansko and Kovachevitsa and many charming churches and monasteries.


Bansko is a unique combination of history, tradition, culture and nature. Buildings from the period of Revival (18th – 19th century) are perfectly intertwined with modern architecture, while the colorful local traditions and culture are kept for generations. Bansko’s location - at the foot of the Pirin Mountains, the beauty of the mountains, the clean air and the well-developed touristic conditions make it a desirable destination for thousands of visitors from all over the world. It’s among the most popular ski resorts in the country and allows a look back at Antiquity. There are ruins of early Christian and medieval basilicas; remains of Thracian necropolis (the "Shipok Mound”) and fortress; ruins of the ancient fortress of Sitan Calais and a ceramic construction materials workshop from the late antiquity (IV - IV c. AD, the "Lisicha Mound").


Another spa resort, located near Bansko is Dobrinishte - its mineral springs are well- known for their healing properties. There are many interesting places to visit here, too – the church "SS Peter and Paul "(1835), the archaeological complex and waterfalls in the area of “St. Nicholas”,”St. Panteleimon” Monastery, Gotse Delchev Chalet, Bezbog Chalet.


Another place, popular for its numerous springs is Sandanski. Located at the southwestern slopes of the Pirin Mountain, on both banks of the Sandanska Bistritsa River, the town’s a municipal center. It covers parts of the "Pirin" National Park, part of the UNESCO list of World heritage sites, featuring unique landforms - Jeleznishka valley with its multiple glacier shapes; River Bistrica’s picturesque gorge over the village of Pirin; Kuklite and Zabat (“The Dolls”, “The Tooth”) peaks; the large cirques Golyamo and Malo spano pole; Glavnishki and Mandrishte and their beautiful cirque lakes, known as “Pirin’s Crystal eyes”; the climbing sites –“Yalovarnika” peak and “Konska polyana”; the imposing “Sokolova skala” cliff and  Kazanite at Dolenska River; Popinolashki and Kashinski waterfalls and off course – the unique natural phenomenon –The Melnik Pyramids (natural landmark and protected area).


Part of the "Alibotush" Natural Reserve /a.k.a Slavyanka Mountain/ – included in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves for its incredibly rich flora and fauna - is in the municipality of Sandanski, as well. The city has a significant history and hundreds of archaeological sites and artifacts from prehistoric, ancient and medieval times attest to that. The contemporary town lies on the ruins of a Thracian settlement. A local legend says that the brave Thracian leader Spartacus was born here. Due to its specific climate, Sandanski’s recognized as the best natural clinic for treatment of upper respiratory tract infections and is often described as the best spa resort in the country.


Melnik - known as the smallest town in Bulgaria is close to Sandanski - another ancient town with rich cultural and historical heritage and preserved ancient architecture. Together with the Melnik pyramids and the nearby Rozhen Monastery, it was declared a Historical, archaeological and artistic Reserve of international importance.


Make sure to visit “Rupite”- an ethereal area with electrifying vibes, dominated by the eminence of Kozhuh (“the fur coat”). The famous Petrich prophet Vanga lived there and her gift changed thousands of lives. The Church of “St. Petka”, with its original contemporary architecture and murals, is located in Rupite, as well.

View the Sites

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    Located in the Western Rhodopes, the village of Kovachevitsa has preserved its authentic 18-19th century appearance and will carry you to the peaceful atmosphere of that time.

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    "Presentation of the Blessed Virgin" Church

    The original Renaisance Church is located in the "Varosha" neighbourhood in Blagoevgrad - a place preserved its authenticity.

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    Rozhen Monastery "Nativity of the Holy Virgin Mary"

    The Rozhen Monastery "Nativity of the Holy Virgin Mary" is among the biggest medieval monasteries in Bulgaria. It is located in a picturesque nature and nearby the famous Sand Pyramids of Melnik.

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    Rila Monastery

    Nestled in the foothills of the Mountain, the Rila monastery had had a major role in preserving the Bulgarian spiritual heritage throughout the centuries of Ottoman rule. In harmony with the surrounding nature, the convent impresses with its architecture and museum.

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    Architectural Reserve - the village of Leshten

    The authentic look and genuine spirit of Leshten win every visitor’s heart.

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    Kordopulova house

    A magical place with deep cellars and lixurious interior design, guarding the secret of sparkling red wine production – Kordopulovа house is the largest National revival building in Bulgaria. It was built in 1754 by rich Greeks for wine production and storage exclusively and bears the name of the prominent family.

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    Nicopolis ad Nestum, the village of Garmen

    In the village of Garmen, near the town of Gotse Delchev, ancient remnants can virtually be seen at every turn.

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    "St. Nicholas" Church

    The progressive people of Kovachevitsa built a large and impressive church several years before the Liberation of Bulgaria from five centuries of Ottoman rule.

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    Temple of St. Petka of Bulgaria

    The church of St. Petka of Bulgaria is perhaps the youngest among the popular Bulgarian temples.

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    "St. Paraskeva" Church

    The white building of the church "St. Paraskeva "really strands out against the background of dozens of Revival style houses perched on hills of Leshten.

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    Church of St. Nikola, Melnik

    The small town of Melnik is most famous for its wine but it is also known as the town of St. Nikola.

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    Fortress of Despot Slav

    The small town of Melnik is endowed with a rich history and many natural landmarks.